Kyoto, Nara and Osaka are prefectures of the Kansai region, which sits in Honshu, the largest province in Japan. On top of that, for a first timer to Japan, any place within these three prefectures would be a great “point of entry” (figurative).

From the moment I set foot in Osaka, I instantly fell in love with it. The city is clean, its people polite and everything is so organized, systematic even. The food is great, the cities are vibrant and the sights are refreshing.

I was in Japan for 9 days and I just can’t get enough of this country. Here are some of the highlights of our trip!

Osaka Castle, Japan

AUTHOR

Wally

CATEGORY

Asia, Japan

POSTED ON

September 23, 2020

SOCIAL

wandering.wally

#1 Osaka – Universal Studios Japan 日本环球影城

If you’ve got budget to spare (the tickets aren’t cheap), then get a pass into Universal Studios Japan! We got ours from Klook. This theme park is so popular that even before opening time, there was already a huge crowd waiting to get in. The size of the crowd is no joke matter. As soon as the doors open, people literally RUN into the theme park, trying to get to their favourite rides first!

So before you come to this park, I’ll advise you to do a bit of strategizing. Get a theme park map beforehand to get a bearing of where all your must-do rides are. You should also know that the most popular attractions are the ones at the Minion Park and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The queue at Harry Potter can go as long as an hour, so start with these first to avoid those ultra-long queues. These are the two parts of the park that everyone RUNS to first as soon as the doors open.

#2 Osaka Castle 大阪城天守閣

The Osaka Castle has been destroyed and rebuilt many times throughout its lifetime. This castle is a magnificent historical landmark and is a marvel to look at. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, it’s a normal sight to see the locals picnic out on a sunny day. Try visiting during Mid-March till early April to witness the magnificent cherry blossom surrounding the castle.

There is one interesting thing within the park that you should look out for, which is the Time Capsule. The capsule was buried there during the World Exposition in Osaka in 1970. It is a future gift to mankind, to opened 5000 years from now. A total of 2,098 items placed in the capsule were chosen to show how people lived in the 70’s. Among the items buried are a portable radio, Japanese pop tune “Blue Chateau”, food for astronauts, seeds for grains like rice, wheat, vegetables (tomatoes, corn, Japanese radish) and for trees like cedar and Japanese cypress and many more.

WanderingWally_Osaka-Castle_Time-Capsule

#3 Umeda Sky Building & Floating Garden Observatory 梅田藍天大廈 (空中庭園展望台)

The Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル) is located at Kita district, near Osaka and Umeda Stations. This 173 meter tall building consist of two 40 story-high skyscrapers which is joined by the Floating Garden Observatory at the top. The 360-degree panorama view is magnificent but the setting sun is truly worth the wait and pretty enchanting. Admission is 1,500 Yen.

#4 Tsuyu Tenjinsha / Tsuyunoten Shrine (Ohatsu Tenjin) 露天神社

Tsuyu Tenjinsha Shrine also known as the Ohatsu Tenjin. The shrine is located in the Umeda district.

This shine has existed since 1,300 years ago and is made famous by a bunraku puppet play titled “The Love Suicides of Sonezaki”. According to legends, the shrine is a memorial to two unfortunate lovers – a son of a rich merchant and a geisha. The unfortunate couple was not allowed to be together as they not of equal stature in the eyes of society. Due to this, tragically, they decided to take their own lives within the Shrines ground in 1703 so they could remain together forever in the afterlife.

Since then, the shrine is a popular spot for couples as well as individuals seeking for blessings for a bright future with their lover or for eternal love.

Admission to the shrine is free.

#5 Namba Yasaka Shrine 难波八阪神社(大阪市)

Hidden within the Namba district, the Namba Yasaka Shrine is famous for its enormous lion head architecture, measuring 12 meters high, 11 meters wide. It is believed that the wide open lion’s mouth swallows evils spirits as you pass through it and brings good luck particularly for those looking to do well in school or succeed in business.

To get to this shrine, get yourself to the Namba station and from there, it takes around 6 minutes on foot.

Admission to the shrine is free.

#6 Yamazaki Distillery 山崎蒸馏所

Suntory Yamazaki Distillery is located at Yamazaki, Kansai region. This famous distillery produces the award-winning Suntory whisky – the Yamazaki 12 Years single malt whisky, which took home the gold medal in the year 2003. Ever since then, Suntory has continued its path of excellence, winning more awards for its whiskies and earning a global recognition for itself.
There are 3 different categories of tours available – the Yamazaki Distillery Tour (¥1,000 per visit, including whisky tasting), The Story of Yamazaki (¥2,000 per visit, including whisky tasting) or visiting the Yamazaki Whisky Museum on your own (admission is free).

#7 Dōtonbori Shopping District 道頓堀

Dotonbori is one of the must visit street in Osaka. This bright, flashy and colourful shopping area is quite big, which includes a river canal and long shopping street dotted by many restaurants, shops and entertainment outlets. As a matter of fact, the shopping district is a 2.5km long stretch. To get to this place, take the train and get off at Osaka-Namba station.
However, in my opinion, there are more food outlets in Dotonbori than any other kinds of shops. If it is shopping you’re looking for, I was told that the  Shinsaibashi-Suji Shopping Street (心斎橋筋商店街) is the place to go, which is a street adjacent to the Dotonbori. I won’t be writing much about that here as I did not go there. So be sure you spare enough time to dine, shop and soak up the local Japanese culture there!
You may read up more about this area here.

Yokoso Osaka, Japan!

If you are thinking of a trip to Japan, consider starting it off here in Osaka then move around and visit the other districts and regions. We spent nine days in total and Osaka is just one of them. I will be loading up more on Japan in my next blog. Enjoy!